From the BLURB:
Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin is trying to live the straight life, even if it means finding a (shudder!) real job. She takes an internship at a local radio station, whose late-night time-warp format features 1940s blues, 60s psychedelia, 80s Goth, and more, all with an uncannily authentic flair. Ciara soon discovers how the DJs maintain their cred: they're vampires, stuck forever in the eras in which they were turned.
Ciara's first instinct, as always, is to cut and run. But communications giant Skywave wants to buy WMMP and turn it into just another hit-playing clone. Without the station--and the link it provides to their original Life Times--the vampires would "fade," becoming little more than mindless ghosts of the past. Suddenly a routine corporate takeover becomes a matter of life and un-death.
To boost ratings and save the lives of her strange new friends, Ciara re-brands the station as "WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll." In the ultimate con, she hides the DJs' vampire nature in plain sight, disguising the bloody truth as a marketing gimmick. WVMP becomes the hottest thing around--next to Ciara's complicated affair with grunge vamp Shane McAllister. But the "gimmick" enrages a posse of ancient and powerful vampires who aren't so eager to be brought into the light. Soon the stakes are higher--and the perils graver--than any con game Ciara's ever played....
I really liked this book. I read ‘Wicked Game’ because I loved Smith-Ready’s ‘Aspect of Crow’ trilogy – which is fantasy, so when I discovered she had an Urban Fantasy series I was instantly intrigued.
Smith-Ready has written a very different vampire mythology. It is based in the real world; complete with references to Buffy & Angel, and Ciara has even been known to “scarf those trendy vampire novels like they were heroin-soaked potato chips” (so, a girl after my own heart). Smith-Ready does not glamorize her vampires, just the opposite. She has her vampires designing coping mechanisms for their immortality; they are essentially ‘stuck’ in the decade in which they were turned. Trying to force vampires into the modern age and outside their comfort zones will leave them hollow shells, alive but not living. These vampires also show signs of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder);
As modern life intrudes on a vampire’s carefully constructed reality, he or she may rebel against these feelings of powerlessness. A benign response may take the form of obsessive-compulsive behaviors, which grant the illusion of control.
It’s a very different vampire mythology than I am used to, but utterly fascinating. Vampires are not known to the public, but have been monitored by Government departments for decades. It’s quite sad, really – these vampires are essentially useless to the US Government because of the drawbacks of their immortality, and are therefore a disenfranchised segment of society. They each struggle with their own neurosis, and grapple with their tethers to the past. They struggle to keep jobs, especially jobs that allow them to live in the present but remain connected to their past. That’s why the vampires at the WMMP radio station have the perfect job; they can play all the golden oldies they like and not be suspicious for being immersed in the past.
‘Wicked Game’ does have a love story at its centre. Ciara falls for vampire-DJ Shane (whose specialty is 90’s grunge) pretty much from the get-go. It is a very sweet romance – not only is Ciara overcoming her fear of getting bit, but she’s struggling with Shane’s mental disabilities too.
Both Shane and Ciara are pretty fascinating characters. Ciara has a shady grifter background – more at ease conning people than working for them, and it’s interesting to read her try to ‘play it straight’. Shane is also fascinating; even before he was turned, Shane struggled with depression; he wasn’t miraculously cured when he became a vampire, but had to add ‘OCD’ to his plethora of problems.
I really liked ‘Wicked Game’. Smith-Ready has become a ‘must read’ author for me. I adored her ‘Aspect of Crow’ trilogy, and now I am eager to read the next 2 books in this WVMP series.